The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees is a short story that imagines that wasps paper nests are intricate, microscopic maps. Wasps collect information about the world and note it in their Great Library at the centre of the colony, which is presided by a “foundress”.

When the wasps invade bee territory and subjugate the bees (remember bees are furry vegetarian wasps), this allows for the development of anarchist bees, who decide that a monarchy is not for them and there should be no leadership. So they set up their own rival anarchist colony. Read the story here to find out what happens to that colony – it is a good example of what happens when a natural system is overridden. It is also a great example of why we need to be aware of the limits of our metaphors: while bees are interesting to study in terms of their organisation, their society is organised in ways that are fundamentally different (more on that here).

There are a couple of interesting observations that emerge from this story: a) the myth of leadership in the colony in which the queen dictates over subjects continues and b) animal structures record environmental information.

The Monarchy Myth… read the rest on The Golden Company website.